• Kyodo

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Yokozuna Hakuho dodged a bullet from rank-and-filer Tochiozan on Sunday to claim his eighth straight win and take sole possession of the lead at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

Hakuho, seeking a record-extending 42nd top-division title, looked on the verge of an upset against No. 4 maegashira Tochiozan midway through the 15-day meet at Edion Arena Osaka.

Tochiozan (1-7), who has only beaten Hakuho twice in 40 attempts, resisted the yokozuna’s initial charge and pulled him down and around into a dangerous position, wrapping his arms around Hakuho from behind.

But as Tochiozan attempted to charge the Mongolian out, Hakuho twisted back, securing a left arm-lock on the maegashira, which he used to sling Tochiozan to the clay and secure a winning record on schedule.

In the last bout of the day, Kakuryu dispatched komusubi Hokutofuji (2-6) to record his seventh straight victory. The other Mongolian yokozuna joined ozeki Goeido and Takayasu, No. 4 Ichinojo and No. 7 Aoiyama as one of five wrestlers a win behind Hakuho.

Ichinojo (7-1) fell one win behind at the hands of Tochinoshin (5-3), who muscled the massive Mongolian from the ring with a tremendous show of strength.

The Georgian ozeki found himself surprised by Ichinojo, against whom he holds a 14-5 record, when the Mongolian slipped to the side in the initial charge.

But after a lengthy lock-up, Tochinoshin found an opening, mounted an offensive and shifted the heaviest man in the top division steadily over the straw.

Among the other ozeki, Osaka native Goeido (7-1) kept his hopes of a hometown championship alive with a win over Tamawashi (4-4).

Goeido was momentarily stunned by a slap from the sekiwake and found himself backed into a hole. But after locking onto the Mongolian’s belt, Goeido stepped on the gas and quickly bulldozed his challenger out.

Takayasu (7-1) also remained one win behind the lead with a push-out win against No. 3 Shodai, who fell to a losing record after suffering his eighth straight loss.

The ozeki bulldozed Shodai to the straw, and when the winless rank-and-filer evaded by circling the edge of the ring, Takayasu met him and sent him out with several well-timed shoves.

Takakeisho (6-2) remained on track for an ozeki promotion with his third straight win, a decisive victory against Endo (2-6). The sekiwake met Endo’s initial charge and steamrolled the maegashira out without giving his opponent a chance to answer back.

Kaisei (1-7) ended a seven-bout losing streak by beating komusubi Mitakeumi (3-5). The top-ranked maegashira improved to 7-1 against Mitakeumi, who put up little fight against the Brazilian and suffered his fourth straight defeat.

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